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Global Roundup: Netflix LGBTQ+ Employee Walkout, Abortion Ban in Poland, Africa's FIrst Chief Heat Officer, 98 new women judges in Egypt, Feminist Sci-Fi Comedy: Galaxy 360
Compiled by Samiha Hossain
Trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston/Kate Sosin via them.us
Earlier this week, some Netflix employees walked off the job and were joined by LGBTQ+ allies to protest Netflix’s decision to platform the anti-transgender comedy special “The Closer” by Dave Chappelle for two weeks. Trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston, who does not work at the company but has conducted trainings at Netflix, led the protest. She and others do not want to “cancel” Chapelle but would like to engage in a conversation on accountability with him, which he has declined.
It isn’t just about Netflix. It’s about a corporate culture that manipulates the algorithmic sciences to distort the way that we perceive ourselves and one another. It is the emergence of a hate economy, of corporations profiting and making money off of us getting at one another’s throats. - Ashlee Marie Preston
There were also forceful counter-demonstrators demanding that the Chappelle special be allowed to remain on Netflix. Two men nearly consumed the demonstration with chants of “Jokes are funny.”
Trans employees within Netflix accuse the company of ignoring years of concerns raised by Black and trans employees, dating back to Chappelle’s 2019 film “Sticks & Stones.”
Given that this year is expected to be expected to be the deadliest year on record for Black transgender women, it is particularly appalling that Netflix is ignoring the voices of its LGBTQ+ employees and other activists.
Clothes hangers, a symbol of illegal abortions, are hung on the gate of the archbishop’s palace during a protest against the tightening of abortion laws in Wroclaw, Poland, 24 October 2020. Photograph: Maciej Kulczyński/EPA via The Guardian
On 22 October last year, Poland’s constitutional court ruled that abortions in cases of foetal defects were unconstitutional and that terminations would be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s health was at risk, which made up only about 2% of legal terminations at the time of the ruling, which came into effect January 2021. Since then, at least 34,000 women in Poland are known to have sought abortions illegally and more than 1,000 Polish women have sought second-trimester abortions in foreign clinics.
Abortion Without Borders (AWB), an organisation that helps women access safe abortion services, says that it has helped women travel from Poland to Belgium, Germany, Spain, and the Czech Republic to access legal abortions.
Along with these numbers, a report by Human Rights Watch, including evidence from 14 other organisations, including Amnesty International and International Federation for Human Rights, said women and girls in Poland are facing “incalculable harm” due to the new abortion legislation. The harm is compounded for those who are poor, living in rural areas, or are marginalized.
We’re seeing more women [access our services] with foetal abnormality since the law changed. We’re hearing from our service users that the severity of foetal abnormality is being downplayed by doctors and that in some cases doctors are wilfully delaying diagnosis [so that women find it more difficult to access an abortion]. - Mara Clarke, founder of AWB
Again and again, across the world, women’s bodies are being tightly controlled by patriarchal powers. Abortion bans don’t eliminate abortions, but rather harm women by leading them to riskier and fewer options. One in four pregnancies end in abortion. Criminalizing abortion does not make it rare. It makes it dangerous for the most vulnerable people who can get pregnant.
Freetown in West Africa has appointed 34-year-old Eugenia Kargbo Africa's first chief heat officer. She is tasked with combating rising temperatures and coming up with everyday ways to cool the sweltering streets of the city she has always called home. Kargbo wants her two children to be able to walk the city streets freely just as she did as a small girl, stepping out without fear of heat stroke. Some of her anti-heat initiatives include tree planting and waste collection and awareness campaigns.
Climate change is a global issue, just like COVID, so we need to sound the alarm and fight this collectively because sooner or later it will affect us all. - Eugenia Kargbo
Kargbo has a year to make a difference for the city of 1.2 million that lost some thousand lives and millions of dollars in damage to a rainfall-triggered mudslide in 2017. Like her counterparts in the United States and Greece, Kargbo's role is part of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center's strategy to provide a billion people with climate resilience solutions by 2030 and gather new heat and housing data to help the city plot a strategy for the long term.
Climate change is on our doorstep and we are seeing it already impact farmers, food security and people's health and safety. We need to innovate to reduce health impacts on the most vulnerable. - Eugenia Kargbo
Newly appointed female judges of the State Lawsuits Authority attend the swearing-in ceremony at the State Council headquarters in Giza, Egypt October 19, 2021. Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
After 72 years of Egyptian women's rights activism, the State Council, an important independent judiciary body in the country, appointed 98 female judges this week for the first time. Iman Sherif, one of the appointed judges, described the move as "historic" during the swearing-in ceremony.
It is very important, not only to see the long resistance came up with this result, but also how much it means to the new generation. It is a step ahead for the younger generation to believe there can be no restrictions in their dreams. - Nehad Abu El Komsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights
The State Council -- established in 1946 -- is an independent judicial body and one of the pillars of the judicial authority in Egypt. It has its own courts and hierarchy, like the civil and criminal justice systems.
According to the National Council of Women -- which is a state organization -- the very first female judge in Egypt was appointed in 2003 in the Constitutional Court. Later, in 2007, 31 more female judges joined the judiciary in 2008 and 2015.
However, what distinguishes the recent hiring of women judges by the State Council is that this body has mounted the stiffest resistance against women judges joining the judiciary over the last decades.
According to the last official statistics released in 2015 and published by the National Council of Women, women shaped less than half a percent of the total number of judges working in Egypt's judiciary system. While there were only 80 female judges, there were around 12,000 male ones. Therefore, the field is still very male-dominated. Many women’s rights activist believe that much more needs to be done.
(President Fattah) Al-Sisi needs to just show the world that Egypt does not have any problem with women. But they really do. We have had great women judges who did want to join the State Council, but their applications were rejected because [they were] not necessarily aligned with the system. It did not matter how much they pursued their cases through legal paths, it still did not work. - Reda Eldanbouki, a lawyer and the executive director of the Women's Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness
‘Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground’ (Image source: Anteriya Films)
Actress, comedian, writer, and film director Anna Fishbeyn has a new feature film coming out, "Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground.” She directs and stars in the film, which explores a funny, feminist future. Fishbeyn is best known for acting in “Happy Hour Feminism” and her short film “Invisible Alice.” She is also the founder of XOFeminist Productions and Anteriya Films. In an interview with Blasting News, she speaks about her career and work.
She says that in Galaxy 360, her character Illumina could only live in a distant future, because women in our world today continue to be censored and judged and forced to do everything they can to please the public and be liked. But Illumina had none of these barriers.
The film is a satire, a gender-reversed world played out with humour and good fun, but with a poignant message. I created this film in order to bring empathy and awareness to the continuing omnipresent objectification of women in our society and the abuse and pain that comes with it. - Anna Fishbeyn
It is 2195 in the film and Women rule the world, men dream of getting married, and you’re invited to the most popular reality event of the future – Victor’s Angel’s Mr. World Beauty Pageant. The film subverts gender roles played by beauty pageants where women are often nameless and reduced to their countries. In the film, the men become the nameless bodies that are valued for their looks.
In the future world of "Galaxy 360," women have all the wealth and unlimited power and they are obsessed with personal pleasure. Men are playthings, referred to only by the districts they are from, just nameless bodies to parade around in their underwear. In a society that only cares about the rich and powerful, there are no consequences for bad behaviour. - Anna Fishbeyn
Samiha Hossain (she/her) is a student at the University of Ottawa. She has experience working with survivors of sexual violence in her community, as well as conducting research on gender-based violence. A lot of her time is spent learning about and critically engaging with intersectional feminism, transformative justice and disability justice.
Samiha firmly believes in the power of connecting with people and listening to their stories to create solidarity and heal as a community. She refuses to let anyone thwart her imagination when it comes to envisioning a radically different future full of care webs, nurturance and collective liberation.